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FBI Chief Warns of Potential Attack Amid FISA Fight

After Wednesday's chaos, House Republicans may now see a path forward
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2024 8:35 AM CDT
FBI Chief Warns of Potential Attack Amid FISA Fight
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday of "the potential for a coordinated attack" in the US, similar to the ISIS-K attack that killed more than 140 people in Russia last month. Wray told lawmakers he was "hard-pressed to think of a time [during my law enforcement career] where so many threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated all at once" as he urged Congress to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for five years to allow continued warrantless surveillance of foreign citizens' communications on US-based platforms. His remarks described Section 702 as "an absolutely indispensable tool ... in our fight against foreign adversaries," per Fox News.

"Our most immediate concern has been that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home," Wray said before the House Appropriations Committee, per Axios. "But now increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia concert hall," he continued. "This is a time when we need your support the most." A day earlier, 19 Republicans joined with Democrats to block the bill to reauthorize Section 702. As Fox reports, "Section 702 has been both credited with preventing terror attacks on US soil and accused of being a vehicle for spying on US citizens," including Black Lives Matter protesters and US Capitol rioters.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they're concerned that reauthorizing Section 702 will mean "mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans' and foreigners'" communications, per Axios. The vote to reauthorize the measure failed after former President Trump urged right-wing hardliners to kill it, leaving Republicans in chaos. House Republicans on Friday will try to advance an amended bill to reauthorize Section 702 for two years instead of five, then bring a separate proposal next week "that would close a loophole that allows US officials to collect data on Americans from big tech companies without a warrant," the AP reports. It notes some GOP holdouts appeared willing to back the new plan late Thursday. (More FISA stories.)

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